Association for Baha'i Studies Conference Goes Online

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Given the current public health crisis, the Association for Baha’i Studies has reached the decision that this year it will not be possible to hold the Annual ABS Conference that was scheduled to take place in August in Dallas, TX.


In lieu of the in-person Annual Conference, the Association has started planning for a robust alternative, with the aim of providing various opportunities for online engagement to serve a range of interests and areas of study. They will communicate plans as soon as they are finalized and in the meantime welcome suggestions people may wish to offer in the meantime.


Beyond Critique to Constructive Engagement

24 July – 8 August 2020 Online Event Space


In an effort to continue learning about what it means to enhance the intellectual life of the Bahá’í community and to participate in academic and professional discourses, the Association for Bahá’í Studies, along with a wide range of participants and collaborators, continues to explore relevant questions through a variety of opportunities, such as discipline-specific working groups, specialized seminars, publication of books and the Journal, and the annual conference. 


At the 2019 annual conference, participants explored ways in which Bahá’ís strive to move beyond a critique of our current social order and its shortcomings, into constructive concepts and practices that allow us to imagine, and contribute to, social transformation as envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh. Plenary presentations and breakout sessions, while recognizing the deficiencies of current approaches to education, racial justice, film production, health, or governance, to name but a few, highlighted new modes of thought and practice that are coming into being. We are more aware of the pitfalls of getting trapped in a discourse of critique alone. 


We are learning to read more deeply the contours of existing academic and professional discourses on critical issues of the day, to seek out the contributions of like-minded scholars across different fields, and to discern promising tendencies. Our growing experience is bearing out that the necessary capacity to transform society can only be developed as “effort is made to draw on insights from Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the questions that arise.”


The overarching mission of ABS is to advance Bahá’í thought and scholarship across a wide diversity of fields and disciplines. The 2020 conference will focus on intellectual pursuits that endeavor to correlate the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh with lines of inquiry in various fields and disciplines in order to effect change at the level of thought, with further implications for change in attitudes, practices and social structures. This year, we will continue to explore a number of key questions: 

  • How can we explore fundamental defects in present knowledge systems, while at the same time, advancing our understanding and generating spiritually grounded alternatives?

  • How can we engage in a critique of the underlying ideologies of knowledge systems without being limited by relativist, postmodern and materialistic modes of thinking?

  • Through Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, how can we ensure that our contribution to discourse includes both a deep understanding of what is, but also informed insights of what could be?

  • How can Bahá’í scholarship contribute to knowledge that seeks to lay the groundwork for new social structures built on principles of justice and oneness?

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